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Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberous,

Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberous,

Name:

Jerusalem artichoke, also known as sun root, sun choke and tapinambur, Woodland sunflower and Girasole. It is a bumpy, fleshy root vegetable of the sunflower family of plants.

Family: Compositae

Origin:

Depending on the source, it is native to eastern Central America or North America and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas.

It is not related to domestic globe artichoke, which is an edible flower bud; rather it is relate to asters, daisies, and sunflowers.  It is cultivated for its tuber which is a root vegetable. It has an underground, nutty, flavorful, and crispy consistency.  This starch-rich root is eaten much like potato in many parts of Western Europe and Mediterranean regions.

Description:

Technically it is an evergreen perennial though it is cultivated as an annual crop. Once cultivated it grows vigorously with branches reaching 5-1 0 feet high with golden-yellow flower heads at the end of the branches.

It will grow anywhere, but prefers moderately well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade and thrives in temperate climates.

It has many starchy rhizomes under the soil surface. The colors are varied, pale brown being the most commonly known, but also purple, grey or pink.  The white inner flesh is often sweet and textured.

History:

It has an ancient American Indian history. 1605 is the first account of the plant written by Champlain, a European explorer, who observed Native Americans growing Jerusalem artichoke with corn and beans in garden in Cape Cod, Maine. It was then introduced to Europe in 1612 where it was used as both human and animal food. It grows in roadsides, riverbanks, rich soil, moist soil.  It now grows world-wide including Germany, France, Italy, Eastern Europe, China and even some tropical countries in the cooler highlands, e.g. India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Kenya, Zaire and Nigeria.

Health benefits:

Prebiotic effect – Contain plenty of inulin which stimulates growth of bifidobacteria and fights harmful bacteria.

Supports blood glucose levels – with a glycemic value of 11, it is considered to be a low glycemic index food.  It provides a slow and stable rise and fall in blood glucose levels.

Supports digestive health – high in fiber and B vitamins, it supports protein digestion and helps to normalizes elimination.

Helps control Cholesterol and blood pressure – it may help to lower total cholesterol levels as well as reducing blood pressure and inflammation due to high potassium and low sodium levels. High fiber also helps to improve the performance of insulin in the body.

Supports blood – Its copper and iron content support formation of new healthy blood cells.

Supports Muscle function – Its iron content supports the flow of oxygen in the blood needed for the contraction of muscles, without which muscles lose control and elasticity leading to weakness.

Boosts Immune System in general – Containing small amounts of antioxidants (ACE), flavonoid compounds (carotenes) it helps to eliminate cancer causing free radicals from the body. It is also an excellent source of minerals and electrolytes.

Where and when to find Jerusalem artichokes:

Besides growing them in your garden, Winter CSA Farms (consumer supported agriculture) and food markets will have them starting in October.  This may last through winter and spring seasons.

Preparation & Serving:

They are nice raw in salad.  Cooked they can be mashed, sautéed as a side dish or with a mixed vegetable sautee. They are also good in soups and stews.

They don’t need to cook long, as they can become too soft and mushy rather quickly.

Precaution -

May cause allergic reaction in people who are reactive to the Compositae family of plants (lettuces, globe artichokes and sunflowers.)

May produce gas if not accustomed to eating high inulin food.

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Author, Eve Stahl, is a Health Consultant, Herbalist and Skin Care expert. She specializes in using nature’s plants to enhance the health of people and to protect the health of our planet. To achieve this purpose she has created Garden of Eve Skin Care products for sensitive skin and all skin types. You can visit her company at: www.gardenofeveskincare.com Prospective Affiliates visit: www.gardenofeveskincare.com/affiliate-application

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